What Are The Good Old Days? by J.L. Greger

I’d describe this collection of stories as historical fiction loosely based on actual recollections of childhoods in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

But then I’d say: These tales address major historical events and societal problems (including child abuse) in the idiosyncratic way of memoirs. They are snapshots of events from one individual’s viewpoint, and the narrator for each story is different. Some are humorous; some are not. They vary in length from four to fifteen pages.

If you’re a sophisticated reader, publisher, or bookstore owner, you’re thinking: Are you sure they’re genre fiction? Memoirs are non-fiction.

The problems of defining literary genres.

Publishers think genres are a way of classifying fiction in order to target marketing of books to receptive audiences. Fine. What if a book or a collection of stories fits into more than one genre?

So-called literary experts say “genre fiction” (as opposed to literary fiction) is plot-driven. That bothers me. I thought the plot was pretty important in The Sun Also Rises, although perhaps not as much as the characters, and I’m pretty sure it’s an example of literary fiction. Oh well. Let’s not argue that point.

Let’s stick to the classification of The Good Old Days? What is historical fiction? It’s plot-driven fiction in a historical setting. However, it can overlap with other genres (such as romances, mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, and horror). Again let’s not get sidetracked.

The stories in The Good Old Days? are definitely examples of historical fiction.

Then why did I mention memoirs? Because I interviewed dozens of people about their childhoods to get ideas for these stories. However, I turned my notes into fiction as I added plots, developed characters, and changed details. My tales are not memoirs, although they have the idiosyncratic tone of memoirs.

By now, you’re bored with this literary discussion. Please note I was much briefer than most writers as they debated the differences between narrative memoirs and historical fiction. Gee, I hate trying to fit into a box defined by someone else.

Blurbs don’t really work for short story collections. So, I’ll include the first page of one of the short stores.

I Still Want…

“I still want a hula hoop.” The chipmunks—Alvin, Simon, and Theodore—screeched slightly out of harmony on the Saturday morning cartoon show. There were lots of things I still wanted, too: the winter to end, Mom to get well, and anyone to talk to me.
When I was eight, neither of my parents spoke much to me. They avoided me, except at suppertime. Then Mom stared at the black cat clock, with its red eyes rolling back and forth and its tail swinging, while Dad and I silently ate supper. When I put down my fork, Mom sent me outside in warm weather and to my bedroom in winter. Dad seldom protested her decision. He only hung his head.
As soon as I exited the kitchen, Mom usually screamed or cried, often both, as Dad droned on about what the doctor said and how she should eat more, stop smoking, drink less, and get out more. I agreed with Mom. Dad’s litany was boring. Anyway, most nights after about an hour of hysterics, he went out to the garage to tinker on his carpentry projects.
For about fifteen minutes after his departure, Mom slammed doors in the kitchen before she shuffled to the bathroom. The next ten minutes were the most important of the evening to me. If I managed to open my bedroom door, slide down the hall to the kitchen, and sneak through the living room to the garage while she was in the shower, I was free…

To read the rest of the story: http://amzn.com/1537743813

Author: J.L. Greger usually writes thrillers and mysteries, such as Murder…A Way to Lose Weight (winner of 2016 Public Safety Writers Association [PSWA] annual contest and finalist in NM/Arizona Book Awards contest) and Malignancy (winner in 2015 PSWA annual contest). The Good Old Days?: A Collection of Stories is a new adventure for her. Please visit her revised website: http://www.jlgreger.com


Janet Greger said…
Thanks for hosting me. I hope your readers will enjoy this blog on short stories and memoirs.
You are always welcome! The book sounds fascinating. Thanks for visiting!
Nancy LiPetri said…
Fitting neatly into a genre is an issue for me, too. Hopefully many readers find our books through word-of-mouth, regardless. I sure enjoyed The Good Old Days and highly recommend it!
Janet Greger said…
Thanks for the comments Marilyn and Nancy.

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